Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't it make my brown pants blue

The blogworthy item in this picture is not that my four year old son learned to ride a two-wheeler today. That was indeed amazing and we are incredibly proud of him and proud of ourselves for letting him do it at his own pace. But I'm talking about something a little more profound.

Look a little closer and you will see what would appear to the untrained eye as a simple pair of blue jeans. This is no ordinary pair of blue jeans my friends. These jeans, while sitting folded in my son's closet for the last year, have come to symbolize unparalleled inflexibility. But now they symbolize the winds of change. My son, who for a YEAR would only wear black jeans to school and brown pants on the weekends, who would only wear his black shoes with his blue socks, who would only wear his dinosaur undies but never the plain green ones that came in the three-pack, is now wearing sandals, no socks, green undies and yes, as this picture is my proof, BLUE JEANS.

His two-wheel mastery is obviously outstanding but let's just say he had me at blue jeans.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tell them your mommy's an artist

This morning we were getting ready for school and I remembered that today my son was supposed to share with his class about what kind of work his parents do. He came home with a paper bag and we were supposed to put things in it that we use at work and explain how we use those things. My husband was planning to bring home a model ear (he's designing a hearing aid) and some mechanical stuff but he forgot. So I grabbed a little Shutterfly photo book and put it in the bag and explained, Mommy is a copywriter. I write all the stuff on Shutterfly's website. And he's looking at me like I just told him I'm an appraiser or a lobbyist or an accountant - all professions he has neither heard of nor can relate to on any level. Tell them I try to inspire people to share their stories through their own pictures and words...still nothing.

Then I thought, you know what? Screw that. I dumped the Shutterfly book and went to get a few of my paintbrushes, a few tubes of paint and an assortment of my 5x7 animal prints, put them in the bag, looked my kid in the eyes and said, tell them your mommy's an artist.

And then today, at 2pm, I called my wonderful manager into a conference room and said, Dianna, I'm an artist. It's time for me to go. And she said that she knew I was doing the right thing though she was sad to see me leave. And we hugged. And I thanked her for being part of my creative awakening. It was a very good exchange. And now we can just be friends again.

So that's it. While the rest of the world is being laid off, I'm leaving my full-time, well-paid, easy-to-manage job, on my own accord. She's lost her mind! It's been said, the thing that keeps you from doing something great is doing something good. My life coach taught me that. So my very good year at Shutterfly is coming to an end and soon I'll begin the shift toward morning artist and afternoon mommy. And greatness. There's a nice symmetry there. I haven't written much on this subject namely because people I work with occasionally read this blog. I will say though that I didn't just snap because it was "put your profession in a paper bag day" at school. This decision and transition is nine months in the making. Thirty-five years and nine months.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chevron, meet Mishmish

I have to share this email that I got from a friend of mine. She's the little sister of my childhood friend. I've known her since she was three. Now she's finishing up her MBA at UCSD and applying for jobs. She's an incredibly expressive, resourceful and intelligent girl and I am loving her right now for making my day yesterday. I'm feeling the love. Her message went like this:

BTW, i have to thank you for helping me out during a recent phone interview i had with Chevron Energy Solutions. I was asked the following: What is your all-time favorite website and why?

I am not really web 2.0 kind of gal and i don't spend that much time surfing the web so the question made me start sweating profusely. do i say Amazon? Boring. New York Times? More yawns! Tvfoodnetwork? Kind of shallow. Arm pits soaked at this point.

Luckily, I was sitting in front of my laptop during the call and opened up my bookmarks list-thingy. Being the last site I bookmarked, Mishmish Studio was first on the list and that's what I said! I said something like, this site is really personal because it's the result of a friend's hard work and admirable determination. She recently discovered that whether or not she can have it all, in terms of career, family, kids, is a moot point. What is important is that she feels empowered enough to try and have it all. That there is no reason for her to have to sacrifice the artist within just because she has 2 kids and a mortgage. In fact, she'll be a better parent and employee by staying committed to her dreams. blah blah blah.

There was a long pause wherein i thought, oh f$!@! Way too personal. TMI. She's probably looking for an answer like google finance or investopedia. But then the interviewer cleared her throat and told me that I gave her one of the best answers to that question that she has ever heard. That I brought tears to her eyes and that she was really touched. yes! score!!!

I love this story for so many reasons. But mostly because somehow my pictures of watery rainbows and whales might help an MBA get a job at Chevron. And so Mishmish Studio and Chevron are forever linked in the cosmic scheme of things. I never saw it coming. Man, the world is a funny place.

Friday, May 22, 2009


You know what I don't get? It's how the French mom at my kids' preschool has three kids and looks like she weighs a buck o'five. What gives? Is she guzzling red wine all day and walking to the boulangerie? No! Because she's not in France! She's in Mountain View with the rest of us, driving our cars around and eating Trader Joe food. So where is her poochy belly, the one she should still have because her youngest is only like 8 months old.

You know what else bugs me? Weeds. I can't friggin' stand weeds. The other day I got so sick of those broad leaf fuckers that come up through our patio bricks that I just pulled out the leaves, leaving the roots to regroup and fight their way back out in another month. I looked around for a good poison solution but couldn't find one. If I'd just been patient I could have sprayed them with something so they'd dry up and then pull the whole thing out. I am really low on patience. I have about as much patience as I have weed killer.

And what is with the City of Oakland? Do you really have to give out that many parking tickets? Screw you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Adventures of Dirt Girl and Bubble Boy

We went camping this weekend at a beautiful spot in Big Sur with five other families from our kids' preschool. And while I joked with my colleagues that if I don't show up for work on Monday it's because I had a nervous breakdown and wandered off into the wilderness muttering about Thomas the Tank Engine and poison oak, it was actually one of the best camping experiences we've had with the kids, if not the best weekend we've had ever. They were incredible. There were eleven kids altogether - six boys from preK plus four younger sisters and a younger brother. The moms in this group have been getting together about once a month since the beginning of the school year, usually at Sue's house, for wine and whine and this camping plan was hatched back in December. It couldn't have landed on a more perfect weekend. Apparently there was a terrible heat wave in the whole SF bay but we were living large in the low 70s with no fog. Unprecedented for Big Sur.

We got there around 6:30 on Friday evening and set everything up while trying to feed our kids. They were happy to see their friends and try out each family's "jumpy house". They went from tent to tent jumping on mattresses and having a ball. When it started to get dark my son asked if he could get ready for bed. Again, unprecedented. So we set them up in the same tent with the intention of moving my daughter later to sleep with her dad in the little tent and I would sleep with my son in the big tent. My daughter had never seen her sleeping bag but nothing phases this girl. She just jumped right in. I started singing them their songs and my daughter was snoring by the end of the first song. My son was still awake by the end of my repertoire but I told him I would be outside, we said goodnight and within ten minutes he was asleep at which point I joined the other parents at a neighboring site for dessert and drinks. And they slept the whole dang night. I was amazed.

The next day we went to an amazing beach but of course, I forgot their bathing suits (in fact I thought we were going on a hike so I didn't know to bring them). But my daughter ran around in her diaper and my son was in his underwear. Early on he got his undies wet and wanted to take them off but I got the feeling that some of these parents weren't super keen on naked kids everywhere, so I told him to wear his t-shirt (and take off his undies). Well his shirt got wet too and after a little bit of anxiety and discussion he decided he could handle having a wet shirt. Unprecedented! My daughter on the other had went out of her way to smear wet sand all over herself and then do a downward dog in the sand to get it all in her hair. She refused to wash her hands off when it was lunchtime so she ate what we now refer to as the sand-wich. And it occurred to me that these two kids could not be any more different. Same parents. Same home. Same preschool. Two completely different kids. Dirt Girl and Bubble Boy. But Bubble Boy impressed us with his ability to shake off his beach discomfort (he isn't always thrilled with the sand/seawater combo) and thoroughly enjoy himself.

That night both kids were out by the end of the first song. It used to be that we went camping just because we knew it was good for the kids but we didn't actually enjoy it that much. I mean, in all honesty. Because it's so much work! Just packing the car is like an 8 hour activity. And getting them to sleep at night and nursing in the tent...uch, terrible. The days were usually fine but it was always more exhausting than enjoyable. But now it's a pleasure. Which is why I'm not having a total come apart that we're doing it all over again this weekend with different families (bad planning - back to back camping trips) because I actually love it. And so do they.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Brown is the new black

On Wednesday I cracked the code on my son's shoes. He's had this pair of black shoes that he's been wearing ever since he was gearing up for prek. It was summertime and I was desperate to get him out of his synthetic, sweaty black cowboy boots so I took him shoe shopping at Target. And of course, he wanted to buy a pair of pink sparkly ballet flats. Sorry Charlie. So he found a pair of black shoes with Velcro that looked like they were orthopedic but I relented and those are the shoes he's been wearing for the last year. So you can imagine at this point the state they are in, a year later. Total tatters. He doesn't even want to wear them anymore. And anyway it's been getting warmer so I bought him a pair of sandals off eBay which he helped me pick out. They arrived and he loves them. Terrific. But we're going camping this weekend so he really needed close-toed shoes. We went to Target again and he picked out a pair that I thought were pretty reasonable actually, and very similar to a pair he wore when he was two, but a different color. They didn't have his size. But that night I went up to the attic and pulled down his old brown pair and tried them on his sister. She loved them. They're little slip-on tennis shoes. Very sporty. He took notice (of the shoes and my delight in her wearing the shoes). Then the next day, Wednesday, I came home with the exact pair in his size. He was thrilled. They fit. Now my kids wear matching shoes and they love it. I love it. Bye bye black shoes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Can you hear me now?

My daughter has further endeared herself to me. We were browsing the latest Real Simple magazine (which incidentally has a tiny but adorable feature on my friend Jenn Louis who owns a catering company called Culinary Artistry and a relatively new restaurant called Lincoln up in Portland - must check out if in the area) and she was pointing out whatever she recognized. Cars. Flowers. Shoes. Then, bless her heart, she saw a picture of a beautiful Eileen Fischer model and said, Mommy! Even better, she turned the page, saw a picture of the Verizon Wireless guy (Can you hear me now?) and said sweetly, Aba!

Can you hear me laughing now?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gray Morning

Yesterday morning I was in the shower and my son came in to tell me that he decided to wear grey socks today. GRAY SOCKS PEOPLE! GRAY FREAKING SOCKS! At first I thought I had misunderstood. How can this be? You don't wear gray socks. That's against everything you stand for. You stand for blue socks! Who are you? Where's my real son? He went on to say, all of my blue socks are dirty so I'll just wear the gray ones. His nonchalance was startling.

You won't believe me (you probably will) when I tell you that those gray socks have been rolled up for a YEAR in his socks box. I don't remember exactly when it happened but at some point he made it clear to me that under no circumstances would he ever wear anything but blue socks. And not just any blue socks. They had to be the kind from Old Navy with the letters and size on the bottom. I fought it for a while because at the time we only had two pair of those. And I thought I am not going to indulge this completely irrational behavior. But after the fifth morning in a row when I wanted to kill him I thought, this is not an important battle. I went to Old Navy and bought six more pairs. And in future weeks and months when he'd run out of blue socks, I'd just dig a pair of stinky ones out of the hamper because I don't give a rat's ass. They can smell like moldy cheese, in fact sometimes they do, but if he wants them, so be it. I've become very zen about the whole socks thing.

Which is why I was completely shocked, ALARMED, if you will, about his decision to go with the gray ones—gray ones that are identical to the blue ones, aside from the color. He's just growing up I guess. But just to be sure he wasn't growing up too quickly I asked him this morning when he came into our bed if he was too old for morning snuggles. He replied no, as if to say, mommy you have clearly lost your mind. As though I had suggested to his younger self that he wear gray socks.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Family folklore

You know that I actually remember my mom trying to teach me to tie my shoes when I was five years old and becoming totally fed up with me because I insisted on doing it myself and wanted nothing to do with her instruction. And if that meant tying the whole goddamned shoelace around my head, well that's what I was going to do. Man I was annoying. But I did get it, that night in fact. And I got it by myself. And my mom probably poured herself a glass of wine and said to hell with you girlie. Go barefoot for all I care.

That's my memory of it anyway. I can picture the exact place it all went down. On the floor of the family room, about two feet from the television. And likely an episode of The Brady Bunch was on. Those annoying bastards. 

But memory is a little unreliable isn't it. There's a long-running story in my family that I tried to kill my mother when I was three. I was PISSED about something or other so I put an empty sand bucket in the middle of the kitchen floor, covered it with a dish towel and put a note on top that said "stp in". I "hid" the bucket with the dish rag but then to be sure she didn't miss my target, I wrote explicit instructions to ensure her demise. Can you say BAD SEED?

But when I think about it now, was I really writing sentences at age three? Was I maybe five? Did I even write that note? My mom is somewhat of a hoarder, at least when it comes to letters and email, but that one's not in the pile. Did we make it up as further proof that I was a giant pain in the ass? A misunderstood toddler? A bad speller? Hard to say.

My husband has a similar "folktale" from his youth. He claims to remember learning how to ride a bike when he was three. A two-wheeler. And that the guy who invented those giant Crayola Crayon coin banks taught him on a farm in Israel (that part's actually true and the guy became a trillionaire). But three? Come on! Our daughter, the repository of his genetic code, is nearly 2.5 and still can't pedal a trike. So what' the likelihood that he was free-wheeling at age three? Slim Jim. But we have these stories in our heads and we sometimes even use them as a benchmark for our own kids. My husband was actually getting annoyed at our four-year-old because he wasn't super gung-ho about riding a two-wheeler. And neither of our kids has intentionally tried to kill us yet so they must be delayed! It's probably not the best measuring stick. I'm sure our kids will have the same conversations with their spouses. Why can't he dismantle his cell phone? I was doing that when I was three!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Superlativist

Right now is the best, worst, biggest, greatest, silliest, hugest, fastest, funniest time in my son's life. He's in the superlative stage and I must say it's quite charming to hear him go on and on in animated detail about his many adventures. It's clear to me that he's experimenting with language which I love. I remember when I was learning Hebrew, which wasn't too long ago, I knew I was nearing fluency when I no longer had to plan what I was about to say and when I could make up words based on these six verb paradigms that are the foundation of the language. It meant that I could verbify (see, I even make up stuff in English - what fun!) any word I wanted and seven out of ten times I was right. And the other three times I had my husband, colleagues, friends, bank tellers and telephone operators rolling on the floor laughing. But I was trying and trying leads to learning.

So it tickles me when I hear my son say things like, I'm eating the extra muchest mashed potatoes.

It gives me the giantest grin.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I finally got my daughter to take a bath without sobbing. This had been going on for months making bath time, which as it is we only do every other day - sometimes every third, my least favorite part of the day, right next to mornings, drop-off, meals, being at the park and going to sleep. Just kidding. Sort of. This past Saturday we realized we had not given the kids a bath since Monday and that's gross even for us. And it's because no one wants to do it, the least of all, me.

That's because recently the only way my daughter would even get in the tub is if one of us took a bath with her and she sat on our lap. So imagine two kids and an adult in the tub. Not a lot of space to clean in the nooks and crannies.

And today was no different until I had a stroke of unparalleled genius. She started to whimper and point to my shirt and lap as if to say, I'll take off mine if you take off yours. My son was already halfway in the tub and I said, Sweetie, do you want to sit on your brother's lap? I asked my son and he liked the idea of being my helper and she agreed so I thought let's do it.

And it WORKED. She sat on his lap for about thirty seconds and giggled until he said she was too heavy and asked her to sit next to him, which she did. Next thing I know both of them are lying down in the tub with only their eyes and noses sticking out of the water.

And just as mysteriusly as she became hydrophobic, she was cured.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Two Trees

This week's creation:
a landscape with some bible thrown in. Enjoy.